Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 16th, 2015

It was begotten by despair
Upon impossibility.

Andrew Marvell

North North
East-West ♠ K Q 6 3 2
 A K 10 5
♣ A 8 7
West East
♠ 10 9 5
 J 9
 Q 7 4 3
♣ K J 10 6
♠ A J 8 4
 A 10 7 2
 9 6
♣ 9 4 2
♠ 7
 K 8 6 5 4 3
 J 8 2
♣ Q 5 3
South West North East
1♠ Pass
1 NT Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 4♣ Pass
4 All pass    


Sometimes you end up in a contract that seems to have no chance. It is vital not to give up under such circumstances.

At the Gold Coast Congress last year when North found his partner with a weak hand and long hearts, it was sensible not to commit the hand to no-trumps. Tony Burke realized that with no entries to his partner’s hearts and holding weak spade spots opposite likely shortage, neither suit could easily be set up at no-trumps. He therefore bid four clubs to get his partner to pick a game and Peter Gill selected hearts — the least worst of the possible games.

West, Warren Lazer, naturally if unfortunately led a club, and Gill won the queen, led a spade to the king and ace, took the club return and pitched his club loser on the top spade.

Now came the heart queen to Pauline Gumby’s ace, and she returned a spade, instead of the killing club. Gill ruffed, cashed the heart king, noting the fall of the jack, and sensibly decided to play East for both the heart 10 and seven.

So Gill led a diamond to the ace, ruffed a spade to establishing dummy’s fifth card there, then took the diamond finesse. Now when declarer led the fifth spade from dummy Gumby could ruff in at once and lose her second trump trick or discard and be held to one trump trick by the lead of a plain card from dummy at trick 12.

Your partner's call of two hearts suggests no clear direction, and you have a clear raise of clubs. But your extras make a call of four clubs the most descriptive; you have no plan to stop in three no-trump under any circumstances, so you might do well to get your shape and values across at one go.


♠ K Q 6 3 2
 A K 10 5
♣ A 8 7
South West North East
1♠ Pass 2♣ Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact

1 Comment

DR RICHARD BICKLEYJune 6th, 2015 at 8:28 pm


I wrote a letter to your New York office a couple of weeks ago, but it got returned. I have been enjoying your column for years but since late January, when I returned to playing competitive bridge after a 35+ year hiatus, I began to truly appreciate your analysis and insights regarding the more complex aspects of the game. In your column dated January 16, 2015, that I read in the Calgary Herald, I had a quibble with an expression that appeared there; namely, at the end of the second paragraph, “the least bad of the possible games.” Then, yesterday, I discovered (yes, I am slow) your columns are online. And to my surprise and relief, the matter in question reads “least worst.” Excellent.

Now why would I care? I have been using the expression “least worst” for years in the context of my work as a clinical psychologist. Folks tend to want to choose the best or better alternative, but life, like bridge, forces us to consider choosing amongst alternatives that minimize loss or difficulty; hence, least worst.

Of course, my concern is a quibble and not terribly substantial.

Richard Bickley